Monday, July 27, 2009

Darkness, Conversations With The Devil, Once Were Warriors

I read The Darkness: Depths of Hell and I’m too lazy to type in like five or six different names, so we’ll just say it’s by the people who write the comic book, although actually, it may have taken more effort to type this explanation than it would have been to just list all the contributors.

Foiled again by my own slothfulness. Bastard!

So, it’s very dark and very funny at the same time. There were even a few times when this genuinely creeped me out which is rare for me (desensitized and jaded as I am.)

One thing about the medium of the graphic novel/comic book is that for some reason, the writers/artists seem to feel freer to paint their protagonists in whatever way they see fit. They don’t try to force virtues onto their characters if they don’t fit.

Unlike most fiction writers, they seem to have made peace with the fact that the people they create can be truly bad people, far worse than the typical anti-hero we sometimes see.

Such was the case in Wanted.

(Although, if you look at the trailer for the film, it looks like whoever adapted it for the screen either didn’t think the audience would have the stomach for a truly evil protagonist or they just had no balls. I'll watch it sooner or later seeing as how I’ve already resigned myself to being disappointed.)

At any rate, the writers of The Darkness: Depths of Hell don’t seem to deem it necessary to paint Jackie Estacado as some kind of tragic, tormented soul who unwillingly has to bear the burden of this horrible curse.

(To sum up, the curse is that there are these demons, imps, whatever called the Darkness who live inside Jackie and periodically persuade him to let them out to wreak havoc.)

Jackie is the perfect carrier for this curse, primarily because he is a killer and cohabiting with evil just comes naturally to him.

But even without this philosophical alignment of how people behave, there’s still much to enjoy about this book.

Anytime a group of demons are ripping apart a person, feeding on their entrails and one of them takes the time to pause, look up and say “Got mustard?” is going to be entertaining.

Plus, whoever the artist was on this, they really know how to draw boobies.

I also read Conversations with the Devil by Jeff Rovin and it just fucking sucked.

I picked it up because it’s about Satan and again, big fan, but how the fucking fuck does someone like this get published for fuck's sake?

However, it’s pretty clear that Rovin really doesn’t know much about Satan or God or psychotherapy or teenagers or angst or human beings and how they behave and react to anything.

A few months ago, I gave up on just shy of page 100, tossed it in the backseat of my car and forgot about it. Then, I went to a doctor’s appointment or something like that, (yeah, I think it was the doctor) and forgot to bring anything to read.

So, I dug Conversations with the Devil out and in the next ten pages or so, the story actually started.

Then the story got old and tired and just when I’d start to put it down, every 50 pages or so, something would happen that was just interesting enough to make me keep reading.

So, the book does have some genuinely unsettling moments but not nearly enough to recommend that anybody wade through 428 pages of shit just for a couple of mildly entertaining surprises.

Rovin simply does not do Satan justice.

Then, I read Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff which can be best described as mournful.

This book, like the film, is part scathing social commentary, part intensely personal and painful human story.

Politically, Warriors makes a persuasive and eloquent argument for making restitution for past atrocities before we can move on.

When an entire race is oppressed, enslaved and/or worse, you can't just wake up one day and say, "Okay, we're not doing that anymore, so level playing field and we're all good now."

Genocide and slavery have not only a psychological but an economic impact that will impact a culture for generations and just saying that we're equal now simply isn't good enough.

Reparations have to be made and Warriors makes this argument very well.

But even when you cast the soapbox aside, the human side of this story is simply heartbreaking, but not depressing just for the sake of it. It shows the hope and the despair of the Maori people in equal measures.

The central characters, the Heke family both endure and create such severe misery that at times, you think that nobody could possibly crawl out from under all this anguish and it’s a testament to the strength of some of these people, particularly Beth, the Heke matriarch, that they do.

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